So many issues to contemplate and solve. Issue after issue. Issues are issuing forth from radio, television and every segment of media all day and all night. We are bombarded with issues.
We are constantly being asked how these issues impact us. So many impacts. Impacts here, impacts there, impacts, impacts everywhere.
What I want to know is what happened to problems affecting people. I’m guessing impact has replaced affect, at least in writing, because so many people are unsure whether to use affect or effect.
Either of those can be used instead of impact:
- How does this problem affect you? (Affect is a verb.)
- What will be the effect of this problem? (Effect is a noun.)
It’s true that affect can be a noun: The patient had a flat affect (no facial expression).
Effect can also be a verb: Every new president hopes to effect changes (meaning bring about).
However, you can see how rarely each of those words is used in those ways. Try memorizing the overwhelmingly more common uses of affect and effect (see sentences 1 and 2 above) and take them out for a spin every now and then. Don’t get stuck in the Issue and Impact Rut.
Food Fight ©Judi Birnberg
If you’d like a list of rules governing when to capitalize a letter, use the search box and put in Capitalization Rules. I posted the list a little over a year ago.
I just want to add that although a word may have special significance for you, your response won’t be universal: Exercise will fill you with Joy and Energy. When you finish your 75 pushups, you may be elated and buzzing with verve. Nevertheless, joy and energy are nothing more than ordinary, common nouns. They aren’t official names of anything (proper nouns) and should not be capitalized.
As I wrote in my previous post about capital letters,
Be very sparing in using capitalization for emphasis. Let your words show the emphasis. As with any form of calling attention to your message (e.g., bold, italics, underlining), when you emphasize everything you end up emphasizing nothing.
MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
A Jumble of Words © Judi Birnberg
If you edit as you write, stopping frequently to go over what you’ve just put down, you stop your creative flow and get lost in the words, debating with yourself whether one version of a sentence is better than others. In that process, you tend to forget where you were headed. When I say “you,” I mean “me” and everyone else.
You will end up with a better document if you follow this rule: Down and Up. Write it down and then fix it up. Get your ideas out and, ideally, let the document sit if you have the time.
It’s helpful to get distance from your writing. I realize that with today’s pressures you can’t always do that. But at least give yourself perhaps five minutes to do something else and then come back to what you wrote to take another look at it and fix it up.
Can you do that? Let me know.
Linguists recently announced that “Huh?” or a similar word seems to be a universal way of confirming that another speaker is understood. They studied 10 languages on five continents, including Dutch, Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, the West African Siwu and the Australian aboriginal Murrinh-Patha. These languages have very different grammatical structures, but all contain a syllable people use to make sure they are understanding what is being said. The variants sound like “huh?,” hah?,” “eh?” and other closely related sounds, and all end with a questioning intonation. I’m wondering if the questioning tone is like the American “Really?” meaning, “I get it.”
Others had proposed that “mama” and “dada” might be universal sounds, but “huh” is much more widely distributed. This came as a surprise to me.
For what it’s worth, when I taught college ESL classes, my students showed me how widespread our word “chocolate” is. The accent may be slightly different but you would instantly recognize the word as “chocolate.” So no matter where you are in the world, you will always be able to get your fix without someone saying, “Huh?” to you.
A Frigate Bird (please spell it correctly) © Judi Birnberg
The following groanworthy errors are from Just My Typo, compiled by Drummond Moir. It’s all too easy to write a word you know well, a word that is close to the one you meant. We’ve all done this. Careful proofreading will prevent a red face.
As I’ve often nagged you, if you proofread silently at your normal pace you will read what you think you wrote, not what you actually wrote. You need to slow down and read out loud. Quietly is fine. The authors of the following sentences obviously neglected to do so:
• Doctors now treat their patients with ultra-violent rays.
• A polygon is a man who has many wives.
• In biology today we digested a frog.
• In the Middle Ages, people lived in rough huts with mating on the floor.
In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, a little squib (are squibs ever large?) announced that Eddie Redmayne and his wife had had their first child. The next sentence was,”The actor confirmed in January they were expecting their first child at the Golden Globes.”
This, my friends, is a misplaced modifier. They were not expecting this baby at the Golden Globes, as the text states. They were attending the Golden Globes when Redmayne made the announcement. When you use a modifier, put it immediately next to the words it refers to. To fix this sentence all you have to do is write, “The actor confirmed at the Golden Globes in January they were expecting their first child.” Done!
Often, when the modifier is in the wrong place, you may inadvertently cause people to laugh at you: The man chased his neighbor’s dog in orange pajamas and carrying a broom.”